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Gène Eggen, Frans Eggen, Titia Eggen, Anneke Eggen, Coen Eggen
“From the same wood”
July 10 to October 16, 2022

Museum Valkenburg presents a retrospective on the occasion of the 100th birthday – last year – of the versatile Limburg artist Gène Eggen. For many he is primarily a sculptor, but he was primarily trained as a painter, graphic artist and monumental designer.

A number of Eggen’s children have also taken an artistic path. The family thus joins a larger group of artists whose children followed in the footsteps of their parent(s). Images by Gène and Frans, installations by Titia, collections of poetry and collages by Anneke and a collection of ethnic textiles by Coen Eggen are on display.

Gène Eggen (1921 Ulestraten – 2000 Maastricht) was a versatile artist who worked in numerous techniques, whereby creation formed the core of his artistry. Many see him primarily as a sculptor, although it should be noted that he was self-taught in this. He was trained as a painter and graphic artist, with an eye for its monumental side. In addition, he applied a wide range of techniques, including stained glass and mosaic.

He started his education in 1943 at the Rijksacademie in Amsterdam. Karel Appel, Corneille and Defesche were his contemporaries. After his studies he returned to Ulestraten to live and work there until his death. In this way he created an enormous oeuvre, often combining all kinds of techniques.

As a painter, Eggen continued to use a palette with characteristic colors over the years: a lot of blue and red. This applies to the hefty early canvases, landscapes and portraits, but also to the more sparsely painted, more recent subjects. His paintings show a progression from rather dark work from the 1950s, masterly colors in the 1960s, to a calmer tonality between 1970-1990. Then the colors intensify again, with a lot of red. Eggen is also someone who constantly used new forms of expression in these paintings. Not conceived, but bubbling up from his mind. Making work out of necessity, because it ‘had to’. Therein lay his real task: to create work for someone he didn’t know yet. On balance, art was made to be seen, but for Eggen the essence lay in the making, not in what happened to it afterwards, even though much of his work had a personal function for the buyer.

The exhibition shows a wide choice through time and techniques, including a now famous image that depicts the women of Srebrenica, and is therefore an indictment of war in general and the mass rape, which is still insufficiently recognized as a war crime. The intention is that the image is given a place in the public space.

Of the Eggen children who ended up in art, only the work of Frans is related to that of Gène.

Frans Eggen (1952 Ulestraten – 2003 Mechelen)  after a busy and varied life, he returned to the parental home in 1994, where he would take a year of rest and at the same time  would cut stones for his father. An image of his own already emerged from the first stone, in his own words ‘because he used his father’s tools and that knew the way’. In the eight years between 1994 and his fatal illness, he cut down about 260 stone statues, nearly all of which have found their way to enthusiasts. Towards the end of his life his images took on an increasingly esoteric character, full of symbolism. We’ll never know whether that twist would have lasted.

He himself said in an interview: “I became a sculptor a few years ago. Its origins lie in my childhood, because I grew up in an artistic family. Father visual artist and mother classically trained singer. When I was about six years old I was literally allowed to ‘clean the record’. Clean the glass plates, polish the ink plates and the linocuts and remove the ink from the woodcuts. When I was a little older, I was allowed to stretch the linen, make lists and cut paper. Later I was allowed to work with sharper tools. The pre-cutting in wood with the ax and the gouges. Then also working with stone, but that is of course heavier. You must have physical strength  to carve in stone. I did a bit of sculpting in my younger years. I also experimented a bit with colors when painting, but never had the ambition to go into art. Perhaps also because I saw that it was a very hard life. It was a struggle to make ends meet with such a large family.”

Statues of Frans are exhibited, which show his short existence as a sculptor.

Titia Eggen (1954, Ulestraten) was educated in a completely different sector, but her destination also turned out to be in art. Over time, work arose that is far removed from her current one. About the current work she herself says: “My work is conceptual in nature and is about the place where you are. The starting point is always a certain facet of the elusive and fleeting ‘being somewhere’ in the moment. Her work consists of floor images and imaginary travel notes in the form of collages, booklets, video and wall installations. The floor images are installations that are formed with separate parts on the ground.

As a poet, Anneke Eggen (1953, Ulestraten) has self-published a large number of collections, sometimes as printed matter, sometimes in the form of boxes, in which the poems are provided with their own prints or collages. She has also made stand-alone collages. One of her poetry collections is illustrated by Gene Eggen. She has written poems about his death and that of her brother Frans in collections specially dedicated to them.

Coen Eggen (1949, Ulestraten) is completely self-taught and has been active since 1969 as a museum curator, exhibition maker, monument caretaker, building historian, half-timber construction specialist, syrup maker and manager of the heritage of Gène Eggen.

Coen is not an artist but a collector and documentalist. Professional for historical museums, but for 55 years mainly as a passionate collector of textiles from Africa and Asia. Where his father encountered the whole world within a radius of five kilometers from his home in Ulestraten, Coen brought the whole world inside through his textiles, which gave him knowledge and great admiration and appreciation for non-Western cultures. He has in common with his father not traveling.

The passion for ethnic textiles is a result of the confrontation with pieces that his father already bought in Amsterdam during his studies. In addition, Gène also made work in textiles at the beginning of his career as an artist. That too forms a connection.

On the occasion of this exhibition, Coen will ‘pass on’ a large number of works by his father. People are allowed to bring work, but are expected to transfer a donation to an account, the entire proceeds of which will go to projects that focus on helping raped women. Their misery regularly fills our news media, as it is now – in 2022 – in Ukraine.

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Entree voor het gehele museum:

  • € 8,00 p.p. (incl. gratis kopje koffie)
  • Studenten: € 4,00 p.p.
  • Museumkaart, begunstigerskaart, ICOMkaart en vriendenpas geldig
  • Kinderen tot 12 jaar onder begeleiding: gratis